World Wellbeing Week is held annually during the last week of June. It’s a chance to ground ourselves, reflect on how we, and those around us are doing, and explore ways to increase our wellbeing, mental health and joy.
At Brink, we subscribe to the WHO’s definition of wellbeing that goes beyond physical and mental health to vitality, resilience and an ability to contribute to the world with a sense of meaning and purpose. We choose the work we do for its potential to make a meaningful dent and change the status quo.
This means it's often in high stakes environments and can be very challenging, but is also incredibly rewarding. It takes self management and awareness but the payoff is worth it, we get to do the work of our lives which also contributes to our sense of wellbeing. It’s a win-win!
We take the wellbeing of the Brink team seriously and have already shared some of the ways we support them with you on our blog, from how we start each week with a Monday morning meeting focused on how we are rather than what we’re doing, to regularly evaluating how we support with mental health.
We like to make sure our approach or things we put into place are backed by evidence. Through work we did with Wellcome Trust to establish Well_Lab, a venture aimed at tackling burnout by bringing an evidence-based approach to wellbeing in the workplace, we saw first-hand how hard it can be for employers to know what to implement. With Well_Lab, we worked with the likes of the NHS to apply evidence-based experiments to tackle stress and burnout that were co-created with employees and designed to fit their culture and context. These are the kinds of principles we apply in our own approach, too.
As well as having a defined ‘duty of care’ to Brinksters, we also regularly look at the ways in which the team can be responsible for their own wellbeing (self care) and how they can support one another (collective care). Being a remote-first organisation, this is especially important to us.
As part of this we regularly share ideas, recommendations and resources with one another in our #wellbeing Slack channel. We’ve had conversations about countering burnout, how best to work remotely, setting boundaries, and the best ways to switch off to name a few!
So, this World Wellbeing Week, here are some of the recent nuggets of wisdom from the team with a focus on remote work:
Managing your communications system to avoid being overwhelmed
Working a remote-first business means the majority of our conversations happen online. Sometimes, this can be across several platforms and it can be easy to get overwhelmed, or lose track of where you’re up to.
- Find a project management tool that works for you: at Brink we use Notion as our primary hub. Across different programmes, the team also uses the likes of Asana and Trello to keep on top of work.
- Make Slack work for you: try limiting your notifications, setting your working hours and integrating your apps (like Notion!) to ensure you're not flooded with messages that could act as distractions.Timebox to break things down: try setting yourself a set amount of time to check messages, before moving onto a set amount of time to get through some work. Breaking your day up into smaller segments helps to avoid distractions and the feeling of being ‘always on’ and ‘doing everything at once’. The Pomodoro technique is one way of doing this that many Brinksters use.
Reconnecting with your purpose as a reminder of your 'why'
We know from scientific evidence that having purpose at work and in life contributes to a greater sense of wellbeing overall. But on a tough day it’s possible to lose sight of that. It can feel counterintuitive to take a beat out of your day when things are busy and challenging however taking time for a mental note to self on why you exist in this world and what you are most passionate about (and what does not matter at all), and finding those connection points in your work can reconnect you with your ‘why’. Brinkster Kelley says: “For me, I find this helps me to get on and do regardless of the environment, the routine (or lack thereof), and any changes I am experiencing in my life.”
Taking a breather to shift your energy
Mental health and wellbeing are interwoven. Although there isn’t a tip or quick fix for everything, taking a moment to ground yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed can help get you back on track. Here’s an exercise some of the team have shared called 5, 4, 3, 2, 1:
This can help focus on the present and redirect thought away from things making you anxious. Start off with some deep, slow breaths:
- Describe 5 things around you. Anything you like, just things that catch your eye.
- Find 4 things you can touch. Take a moment to focus on the sensation.
- Listen for 3 sounds you can hear. Focus on things both near and distant.
- Identify 2 smells - hopefully they're pleasant!
- Tune into your taste buds. What's the 1 dominant thing you can taste?
Let the music play!
It’s not news that music has the ability to shift our mood. Whether it's for calm and focus during a period of work, or to get energised ahead of a busy day, the Brink team have an eclectic mix of go-tos.
Here’s one of our collaborative playlists, formed from a Brink Monday Morning Meeting. The question was ‘what is your favourite power-tune to get you going?’.
Top Tips when life is Nomadic
This is extra important when working remotely, especially if you tend to work from different environments during your work week. Brinksters Kelley and Constanza gathered some of their toppest tips for us all:
- Decide where you are going to work (and how you are going to start the day) the evening before (i.e. tomorrow, I’ll work from this place and will leave the house at this time so I can have a coffee and read the news there). This will help give you a sense of direction in the morning.
- Know what works for you. Figure out where and how you do deep work vs calls, and apply those basics. For example, do you work better in short sharp sprints offline? Why not spend a few hours in a cafe to power through your work.
- Be transparent with people. Tell them that you’re in a cafe, so your internet is bad or you’re over-caffeinated. It shouldn’t be assumed that people have a quiet place at home to work, so it’s important that we recognise that for ourselves and are clear with people about how it impacts us (aka we’re not robots, let’s not pretend).
- Make a plan to end the day. Figure out what you need that day to realistically feel like you’ve wrapped things up (it could be working on one thing, it could be cleaning your slack), and do that thing. Know that once you’ve done those, you’re free to go and do something to feel like you’ve closed the day, like meeting a friend, going for a walk, and use that moment to create a sense of closure
- Earlier this year, as part of our work around vitality and wellbeing, we’ve signed up to the Mental Health at Work Commitment, curated by Mind, along with over 1,400 like-minded organisations. If you’d like, you can read more about it on our blog.
- Every Monday morning at our all-hands team meeting we check in with one another to see how we are doing. It’s a way to build intimacy and trust in a remote team, it’s also a valuable weekly pulse-check of how the team is doing. We wrote about the format so you can try it too, here.